KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kyle Hollins wants to provide the hand he never had as a child. Growing up in Kansas City, Missouri, Hollins dealt with the realities of crime and poverty.
He admits those experiences influenced the way he thought and behaved, eventually leading him to a path that ended with a nearly 8-year prison sentence.
“I know where untapped and unfiltered talent can go if no one is there holding their hand and guiding them through some of the traumatic things and struggles they go through,” Hollins said.
Even before he left prison, he began working on a solution: Lyrik’s Institution. The nonprofit is named after his daughter, Lyrik Clinton, who will be in eighth grade next school year.
The nonprofit officially launched in 2019. It focuses on cognitive behavior therapy through creative arts.
Hollins believes a tailored curriculum along with relatable teachers showing real-world applications of their lessons can lead to behavior modification.
“If they’re not working through those thought processes now, they’re not going to be really prepared,” Hollins said.
He has a particular focus on creative arts, which is where the Kansas City Art Institute comes in. For the second year, it sponsored a summer art program where roughly 20 teenagers in the Lyrik’s Institution come to the college campus, learn to create art and discover opportunities art presents for furthering their education and future careers.
“It proves when we all work together on a common goal that major things can happen," he said. "It’s just about giving up all the biases and all the what-ifs and the maybes and saying, ‘We’re going to take a chance.’ That’s what the Art Institute did with us."
His own daughter, Lyrik, is participating in the summer art program. She said lessons about thinking before reacting have landed with her.
“Just feel [the criticism] and reconsider what you’re doing and think about what they said and try to make it into something more positive,” Lyrik said of her new approach.
Just like the pieces of art these teenagers have created this month, Hollins believes each student has evolved.